| By Maggie Leyes
Rated for a Reason
Jeanna Kennedy’s persistence paid off, ensuring that an entrepreneur with health issues got the
life insurance he needed.
Most agents would like to
from a rated case. Selling
life insurance is difficult. But going
back to a prospect with a rated policy
and its attendant premium increase
can seem like an insurmountable
task—that is, unless you ask Jeanna
Kennedy, a member of NAIFA. A
rated policy underlines the reason
she’s in business. “It shows that there’s
a real need,” she says. This was the
case with Galen Beardall.
Jeanna. Although she was a rookie
agent, she stayed with the process. “I
convinced them to run a quote. I told
them, ‘Let’s go through the process
and see what happens,’” she says.
The men agreed, and Jeanna submitted applications for $500,000 of term
insurance for both Galen and Dallas.
in order; he reviewed his policies and
beneficiaries. She says that when
they spoke, Galen was at peace. “He
said [his death] was inevitable, and
he was confident he was going to a
better place—and that he’d be seeing
his family again,” she says. On Dec.
15, this avid fly fisherman, outdoors-
Staying with the process
Jeanna, who’s been in business for 10
years, calls herself a generalist and likens
her practice, the Bell Agency, a Farm
Bureau Life agency in Cody, Wyo., to
that of a family-practice doctor: She
takes care of all her clients’ needs. She
started out providing Galen with property and casualty insurance for his home
and rental property. Galen, however, had
also built a thriving auto repair and tire
business, Bear Co. Inc., in two locations.
His son, Dallas, was his right-hand man.
Both men needed life insurance to cover
the business’ debt and protect their families. But it went beyond just need. “There
was a buy/sell agreement within the
corporation’s bylaws that had to be taken
care of—and the only way to do that was
with life insurance,” says Jeanna.
In 2001, Jeanna took advantage
of an annual review to put the matter
on the table. “They both knew it was
something they had to do, but they
were hesitant because of Galen’s
health,” says Jeanna, referring to Galen’s high blood pressure. It’s often
at this point that the sales process
breaks down: The prospect demurs;
the agent lets the case go. But not
“You’re there to sell insurance
to people who do have a need.
The client needs to truly
understand that there’s a
risk in their life.” —Jeanna Kennedy
It was not a surprise when the case
came back with a permanent rating, but
Galen balked at his premium: $5,285.
Again, Jeanna stayed with the process.
She looked Galen in the eye and said,
“There’s a reason this is rated. … Most
people never have an opportunity to
collect on their term insurance.” Jeanna
says something clicked for Galen at that
moment; he signed the document.
Easier, but not easy
Just a few short years later, Jeanna’s
words were made reality. In April
2006, Galen learned he had pancreatic cancer. Although he faced a
life-threatening illness and ongoing
treatments, he didn’t let the experience change his zest for life—or for
his business. He continued taking
care of his customers and spending
time visiting with them. “He was a
caring man with a lot of friends,” Dallas says.
In November, Galen paid Jeanna
a visit to make sure everything was
man and family man passed away at
The life insurance proceeds allowed
the family business to continue and
“made it easier to move forward without having to worry about what the
next step would be,” says Dallas. He
later sold one of the shops and built
a larger facility. He and his family are
thankful for Jeanna’s persistence. “You
never know when something is going
to happen,” he says. “You need to be
prepared with good life insurance. It’s
still not easy, but it makes it easier.”
Jeanna shares her story because of its
underlying lesson for other agents: Don’t
be afraid of rated policies. “Usually
agents aren’t enthusiastic about selling a
rated policy,” she says. “But remember,
you’re there to sell insurance to people
who do have a need. The client needs
to truly understand that there’s a risk in
Maggie Leyes, a freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to Advisor Today.